PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT - COUNCIL DIRTY TRICKS?
This is a lost of the 'dirty tricks' The Councils Planners and Legal Team often use
in order to prevent them issuing the homeowner with a certificate of Lawful Development.
Is this list a valid perception of the general public?
Having submitted many Certificate of Lawful Development applications over the years and also listened to other
peoples stories of their own PD experiences from various Council Planning Legal Departments, it is clear that many
(not all) Planners or their Legal Lawyers do not have the mindset to help you, the homeowner achieve what you want
from your property.
And when you think about it - why should they? Those that have been educated through the various rungs of the
planning degree course ladder are taught that they are ‘the expert gods’ on building design and matters of social
engineering. They are the masters and have the control for how a village, town, city or even society should evolve
and develop into the future. I think George Orwell must have had some form of bad experiences with his local
Planning Department before writing his book 1984. However, most of the Case Planning Officers that have been
trained in-house at the council from the ground up are usually different in their approach and outlook often for
the better specifically when they have had several years experience under their belt.
To compound this mindset they are working for a local authority where for generations now the perception of
others, (especially from those running their own businesses), has been that these type of people who enter local
government type jobs are for people who couldn’t make it in the real world. Somehow they lack the character and
spirit to become self made or successful in business themselves so they have to work for an organisation where one
simply implements or enforces rules set by a committee. I had this detrimental comment thrown at myself when I left
an private employer to work as a ‘Housing Improvement Surveyor’ at my own local council back in the mid eighties -
I resented the comment very much & I hope I proved them wrong.
Having experienced all three types of employment categories myself and on balance, I would
tend NOT to agree with this perception. Most of my Council colleagues were (and still are) very dedicated to
providing a good service who have adopted many private enterprise initiatives and practices to become very
efficient and mindful of who their customer actually is - well those that have to compete with alternative service
So, why should so much of the general public using their local Planning Service especially for permitted
development issues feel that automatic blocking tactics often exist to prevent them completing what should be their
natural government allowed development rights? Well as always, the devils in the detail and with this current set
of 2008 PD legislation there is a distinct lack of detail resulting in many ambiguities that can be exploited by
both sides of the fence.
This has resulted in the creation of many opportunities for the planners and their legal teams to view building
proposals that could be outside of their control in a way that brings it back into ‘The System’ of their
‘professional’ assessment and approval - and all normally on a point of minute detail rather than accepting the
wider broad brush principal of the revised PD legislation in trying to free up the planning system. All this has
done is to reinforce the ‘us and them’ perception from the general public.
However, to put some balance back on this discussion document for a moment, I have equally
heard from neighbours and Parish Councillors alike who have been on the receiving end of a site owners PD building
project and, they too, are upset that the Planners have been seen to be ‘pro-development’ for a homeowners wish
list for a very ugly and un-neighbourly development that would never have received formal Planning Consent through
the normal ‘Planning System’. They (the planners) really are between a rock and a hard place at times.
Below, I schedule my experiences to date of the technicalities often exploited by the Planners or their Lawyers
that they would use to prevent them issuing a Certificate of Lawfulness. Use this ‘top ten dirty tricks’ schedule
as a check list before submitting your own C of LD application. If you have personally experienced other
technicalities that the Council have used in denying you to PD rights that you consider to be a dirty trick then
please do let me know.